This scene never fails to make me cry. It’s one of my favorite parts in the entire series. It’s full of so much emotion and character depth, so I’ll do my best to break it all down.
It’s difficult for us to have any sort of sympathy for Delita at the beginning of the scene. Though he was a friend to Ovelia at Zeirchele Falls, he showed her no kindness when she was a prisoner of Cardinal Delacroix. He rescued her from the Church and brought her to Duke Goltanna, but his treatment of her was rude at best. Now he finds her when she’s alone and at her most vulnerable, and he instantly begins teasing her, reminding her that she is not a princess at all. He makes a joke out of everything she has suffered through.
His apology seems sincere, but Ovelia is still clearly devastated. She’s hurt and sad and very, very scared. No matter what may have happened, no matter who she is, she wants to live. As she speaks, it becomes more and more evident that she has endured so much pain and loneliness over the years. She’s hardly lived at all.
She and Delita are different. Delita knew all along that he was not actually of noble blood. He always had a definite identity. Ovelia was never entirely certain of herself, not even when she was younger. While it’s true that they were both expected to fulfill certain roles, those roles were completely different. When it comes down to it, everyone in Ivalice is expected to fill some sort of obligation. That’s one of the game’s main themes.
Delita’s words become more and more vicious as he continues speaking, until he finally proclaims his freedom against his oppressors. Ovelia appears a little disturbed, and rightly so. Delita speaks so powerfully, so emotionally… but then his promises become passionate. He still speaks of violence, but he swears that he will protect Ovelia, that he will love her. He will “burn down” an entire kingdom, and he will do it all for her. It’s violent, it’s frightening, but it’s also romantic in a very strange way. His words are exactly what Ovelia wanted to hear. She was alone for so long that Delita’s promises meant the world to her.
Whether or not Delita does truly love Ovelia is left up to individual interpretation.
Ovelia: How could you? You… you used them, and all the others! And someday you’ll cast me aside, just as you did him!
Delita: Did you get your end in all of this, Ramza? I… I got this.
The relationship between Delita and Ovelia is the most complex and tragic love story in any video game I’ve ever played. It’s the story of two broken people desperately seeking that which they desire most. They both wanted security and comfort. They both wanted to experience life on their own terms, rather than someone else’s. They both wanted to feel worthy of something. In the end, though, they were both too damaged by their pasts to know how to love.
It’s easy enough to see how that might hold true for Delita. His beloved sister is killed by the people who are supposed to love and protect him. Tietra’s death gives Delita ambition, but it also leaves him bitter of the world around him.
I do think that Delita truly loved Ovelia, and that he thought of Ramza as his brother. Those were the only two lasting positive relationships in Delita’s life, but he did achieve more from them than happiness. In the end, Ramza was a means of taking down the Church of Glabados, and Ovelia was his key to attaining the throne. Nevertheless, how many times did Delita insist that he would protect Ovelia or that he would build her a new kingdom? To say his intentions were pure would be inaccurate; he did promise her from the beginning that he would make the nobility pay, that he would “exact from them the price of their gluttonous feast.” He intended all along for people to suffer, but he never wished harm on Ovelia or Ramza. Still, that bitterness and contempt for the nobility had been a part of him for so long that he often lost sight of what was truly important. His desire to keep Ovelia free from harm and distress caused him to become patronizing and overbearing. Delita hated the world so much that he built up walls around himself, forgetting all the while that walls were exactly what Ovelia wished to be rid of.
To label Ovelia as nothing more than a victim would be to disregard many of the complexities of her character. Ovelia has flaws of her own. Her past shaped the person she became, as was the case with Delita. Like Delita, she also reacted poorly at times to the world around her. As soon as Folmarv told her that she was not truly who she thought she was, she began to lose her faith in the world. She questioned everything, but in all the wrong ways. She often jumped to the worst of conclusions in multiple situations, especially where Delita was concerned. That’s not to say her behavior isn’t understandable. Both her mindset and Delita’s can be explained by (and blamed on) their backgrounds. And to be fair, it would be difficult for anyone to trust Delita, let alone someone as hurt and scared as Ovelia. But while Ovelia might not have vowed to inflict suffering on the people who had wronged her, her sad past does not justify that which shapes her flaws in the present. Delita is definitely the more manipulative and malicious one, but Ovelia stabbed first.
The main problem between the two lovers was communication. Delita’s emotional detachment and Ovelia’s constant uncertainty created a rift between them. There’s no doubt in my mind that they both loved the other. Ovelia was heartbroken when she heard Delita threaten Orran. Delita brought Ovelia flowers on her birthday.
When Ovelia stabbed Delita, he simply reacted the way he’d taught himself to react to everything since Tietra’s death. He took revenge. Ovelia never stood a chance against him. But the moment she falls to the ground, he looks horrified at what he’s done. He drops the bloody dagger in his hand and says a word out loud to Ramza, speaking his regrets. Ovelia stabbed someone who loved her in the only way he knew how to love. It’s frightening, it’s disturbing, and it’s tragic, but it’s one of the most beautifully written love stories I’ve ever come across.
Ramza: You think freedom a thing bought and sold? What value, a freedom you have not earned? A man who’s lost his pride can never be free. You surrendered your own freedom the moment you bowed your head to someone undeserving! Freedom and equality cannot be bartered. They are rights - rights earned with sweat, and toil, and blood! Freedom is no raiment of Lucavi weave! They tell you you wear cloth of gold, but in truth you stand more naked as before!
For a moment, I raised an eyebrow at Ramza for his talk of what “freedom” truly means. But then I realized one very important thing: he’s grown up. He’s not the sixteen-year-old squire from Gallione anymore. In my game, he’s twenty-one. He has learned to fight his own battles. In the grand scheme of all the things he’s done, the fact that Ramza was born a Beoulve means little at all. He has more than earned his freedom. He knows what he’s talking about, as he has for a while now.
Ramza’s strength did not come from his family name, nor did it come from denying his nobility. His strength came from his determination to put the world to rights. In the end, it wasn’t his social class that made him a better or worse person. It was the fact that he kept on fighting, no matter what, to save his loved ones and restore peace throughout Ivalice.
Don’t let anyone fool you. Dismissing chocobos is the most difficult part of Final Fantasy Tactics.
To be frank, it’s a necessary evil. You only have sixteen party slots, and chocobos can fill up every one of those slots in a matter of minutes if you’re not careful. Look at these adorable little motherfuckers. These precious, heartbreaking motherfuckers. They try to guilt you into keeping them.
An introductory background to Final Fantasy Tactics.
If you’re unfamiliar with the storyline of Tactics, this should be a relatively quick explanation of the setting.
(This analysis will use the names and phrases from the more recent translation of Tactics, with the PSX (mis)translations in parentheses immediately after.)
Final Fantasy Tactics begins after the Fifty Years’ War and before the War of the Lions. The Fifty Years’ War was a bitter struggle that pitted Ivalice against the kingdom of Ordallia. (In Final Fantasy XII, the land that Tactics people refer to as “Ivalice” was known as Rozarria. “Ordallia” is Dalmasca, Kerwon, Nabradia, and Archadia — everything to the east of Rozarria.)
During the Fifty Years’ War, two prominent groups of knights fought side by side: the Order of the Northern Sky (the Hokuten) and the Order of the Southern Sky (the Nanten). The noble Barbaneth Beoulve (Balbanes Beoulve) led the knights of the Northern Sky, while Cidolfus Orlandeau (Cidolfas Orlandu) led the knights of the Southern Sky. These groups were called the “two lions” of Ivalice, because bothorders bore a lion on their crest. Ivalice lost the Fifty Years’ War, leaving most of its citizens utterly destitute.
Queen Louveria (Ruvelia), wife to King Ondoria (Omdoria) Atkascha III and sister to Duke Bestrald Larg (Prince Bestrada Larg), controls most of Ivalice’s politics. Her first two sons with King Ondoria both died at a very young age. She chose to adopt Princess Ovelia, the daughter of the Ordallian king and King Ondoria’s younger half-sister, to use as a potential heir to the throne. Those plans changed, however, when Louveria’s third son, Orinus Atkascha, was born after the end of the Fifty Years War. Some speculate that Orinus was not actually King Ondoria’s son; there was no way to be sure of this, however, since King Ondoria died two years after Orinus was born. After Orinus was born, Princess Ovelia was sent away to live in a monastery.
Another organization with political motivations is the Church of Glabados. The Church maintains their very own fighting force, known as the Knights Templar. They are generally tasked with disposing of heretics to the Church, but they will begin to serve a more sinister purpose later on in the plot.
This scene is yet another addition to the PSP/War of the Lions version of the game. It’s part of a quest where Mustadio buys Agrias a rare accessory for her birthday.
You’d expect die-hard fans to be angry when a game gets extra scenes added to it after ten years, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for this. Seriously, everyone I’ve talked to absolutely loves the birthday scene.
It’s really sweet, when you think about it. Ramza, Mustadio, and Agrias have been traveling together for years, but we don’t ever get much of a chance to see how they and the others interact as a group. So much time passes during the game, and life happens. Normal things like birthdays happen. People grow older, and they start to change. This scene gave us insight into both Mustadio and Agrias.
[Agrias is sitting in the pub at a table by herself. Mustadio and Ramza walk in and stop just before the bar.] Mustadio: Hmm… [The camera pans to Agrias and Mustadio takes a few steps back.] Ramza: Well? Do you intend to give it to her or not? Mustadio: Give… what? To whom? I’ve… I’ve no idea what you- Ramza: Mustadio! Mustadio: (lowers his head) All right, all right…
Tavernmaster: Good day to you. Might I interest you in a drink? Ramza: Mayhap you might. Have you any milk? Tavernmaster: Ha! I like you already! I’ve not had a customer order milk before. You’ve seen your share of battle, have you not? Most men as live that sort of life come wanting spirits.
Milleuda: How can you nobles live as you do and yet hold your heads so high? We are not chattel! We are humans, no less than you! What flaw do you hold there to be in us? That we were born between a different set of walls? Do you know what it means to hunger? To sup for months on naught but broth of bean? Why must we be made to starve that you might grow fat? You call us thieves, but it is you who steal from us the right to live! Argath: You, no less human than we? Ha! Now there’s a beastly thought. You’ve been less than we from the moment your baseborn father fell upon your mother in whatever gutter saw you sired! You’ve been chattel since you came into the world drenched in common blood! Milleuda: By whose decree!? Who decides such foul and absurd things? Argath: ‘Tis heaven’s will! Milleuda: Heaven’s will? You would pin your bigotry on the gods? No god would fain forgive such sin, much less embrace it! All men are equal in the eyes of the gods! Argath: Men, yes. But the gods have no eyes for chattel. Milleuda: You speak of devils, not gods!
(I abridged the PSX screenshots; if you’d like to see the entirety of Milleuda’s dialogue, you can find it here. The PSP text remains intact in the section above.)
Tactics contains so many emotional and thought-provoking scenes, but this conversation is one of the most striking and memorable parts of the entire game. This scene always stands out in my mind. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking and horrifying, all at once.
Argath is of noble birth, but he laments that his family name is no longer as respected as are the Beoulves. He allies with whoever he so chooses, so long as he can become a hero. He even abandoned Marquis Elmdore, his liege lord, as soon as more information was given as to the Corpse Brigade’s whereabouts. We can only assume that he believed there was more glory to be had in siding with the Beoulves. Every one of Argath’s goals points back to restoring honor to himself. He’s selfish, arrogant, and manipulative.
That being said, he is a product of his environment. He is meant to epitomize everything that is wrong with not only Ivalice’s society but also our own. His entire character sums up quite a few forms of bigotry and hatred, and he’s only sixteen years old. A part of you wants so badly to feel sorry for him, but then he lets out this wave of unbridled vehemence against Milleuda simply because she exists, because she dares to fight for what she believes in.
Though Milleuda’s comments were quite inflammatory, she truly believes in equality for all people. She may condemn the actions of the nobility, but not once in either translation of this scene does she express any sort of hatred for who they are as people. Argath’s statements are far more derogatory. He uses religion to justify the oppression of the peasantry, and he attempts to invalidate her every belief using his own. He truly thinks of her as being some sort of sub-human creature. The hatred he displays is almost entirely unprovoked, and it’s frightening.
We may have only just met Milleuda, but she is already such a sympathetic character. All she wants is to live a happy life, to ensure that her brother’s message of equality is spread. While they are not perfect, her ideals are the closest thing we’ve seen so far to a peaceful future. Raising her sword to oppose bigotry will ultimately result in her death, and the tragedy of that ending evokes a feeling of futility. In the end, goodness alone won’t be enough to stand up to the hierarchy. There’s something inherently depressing in that.
Zalbaag: I need you to take a look at something over here. Catch. Can you tell me the name of that mushroom? Herbalist: Of course. It’s mossfungus, my lord. Not the deadliest of poisons, but not something you’d want in your stew, either. The stuff gets you in the end. Zalbaag: So I hear. Herbalist: I, uh- do you not think we should be getting back now, my lord? Zalbaag: What has you so terrified? Herbalist: Don’t you know, my lord? Mossfungus grows only on corpses. And, well- they say it’s a right bad omen to find it growing on a family grave. The house falls as the cap rises…or so they say. Zalbaag: On your way, then. Herbalist: Heh. Kind thanks, my lord. Zalbaag: Your fee is as promised. The rest should help you forget what you’ve seen. Herbalist: Forget what?
Zalbaag: Forgive me, Father…
To me, this is the most poignant and memorable moment of Final Fantasy Tactics.
Zalbaag is a rather minor character in the game, but we see so much personality in his thoughts and actions. He loves his family, and he had always trusted Dycedarg unconditionally. But when he found out the truth behind Barbaneth Beoulve’s death, he finds himself utterly lost. All he can do is stand at his father’s gravesite and apologize. Maybe he’s apologizing for not being able to protect his family, or for the sins he’s committed since his father’s death. Whatever the case may be, this is a pivotal point in the development of a very complex character.
Cloud of Darkness is technically nothing more than a manifestation of energy with the purpose of returning the world to nothingness. Unless I’m much mistaken, the Cloud of Darkness is referred to as “it” rather than “she.” It does not seem to be sentient. Even if it were, it relies wholly on Xande’s summoning for its ends to be achieved.
Altima/Ultima, however, is a sentient, intelligent being whose plans consist of more than “destroy everything.” She, like several other Espers/Lucavi, is specifically referred to as female. Her plans are much less mindless than one might believe.